Baseball team plays two intra-squad games

TUSCALOOSA -- The University of Alabama baseball team completed its first week of preseason practice on Saturday, which included a pair of intra-squad games at the Joe over the weekend.

The Crimson Tide played a pair of 12-inning games in a controlled setting, where pitchers were limited to just 15 pitches per inning in their three-inning stint.

Alabama head coach Jim Wells, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary with the Crimson Tide in 2004, talked about the play of his middle infield in the first two intra-squad games.

"I like our middle infield," Wells said after Saturday's scrimmage. " We have some guys that can really move together as a tandem. We have not had that in a long time.

"I like Rocky Scelfo. He is a guy that has been here only two weeks, but has shown some good things. We are working him at shortstop and I would like to keep him there. I like (Mark) Haske, who had a good fall and he has done well."

Scelfo, a transfer from Chipola Junior College, had four hits in the two intra-squad games with a pair of home runs. Haske, who is now working at second base, collected a pair of doubles this weekend.

Wells also pointed out the depth on the mound and liked what he saw from his front-line pitchers in Friday's scrimmage.

Brent Carter is projected as a key starter for the Tide, whose season leads off February 13 versus New Orleans.

"I thought the pitching was pretty good Friday," Wells added. "The main guys did a nice job. We have shown some depth defensively and on the mound. We pitched well in the fall and I think we now have a few more guys that are improving. One guy is Andrew Walker, who we did not talk a lot about in the fall. He has shown improvement."

Walker is a junior right-hander, who pitched the last two seasons at Cowley County Community College.

Wells also talked about the play of junior college transfer Matt Grooms and the depth in the Crimson Tide outfield.

"I think in the outfield there are some options," Wells said. "(Matt) Grooms has shown he can play centerfield and we also have two young guys (Brandon Belcher and Emeel Salem) that can do it."

Grooms, who was a third-team All-American last year at Chipola Junior College, had two hits and reached base four times in Saturday's scrimmage.

Overall, Wells was pleased with the his team's first week of practice as the season opener is now less than three weeks away.

"The hitters went against live pitching for the first time and they are all much improved. I thought it was a good week and if we can get this again next week and improve again, we will be well on our way.

"Another player that has really improved is Evan Bush. He seems to be a much better hitter and showed that the last two days."

Bush, a sophomore from Rainbow City, had three hits in the first two intra-squad games, including a home run and triple.

Alabama will begin its second week of preseason practice on Sunday at the Joe with the next intra-squad games tentatively set for next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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